Boise police say they’ve got a new lead in a 30-year-old murder case, thanks to intensive detective work this year and recent advancements in DNA technology.
Joyce Casper, 65-year-old owner of Casper’s Vista Hallmark Shop, was found dead in her car behind the shop at Vista Village Shopping Center on Oct. 13, 1987. Police said she was sexually assaulted.
The cold case was reactived by the Special Victims Unit in 2005. Two detectives began focusing on the case this past August.
Over the past three decades, investigators have looked at 150 persons of interest and have narrowed it down to about 20, Boise Police Sgt. Justin Kendall said.
Investigators had hoped the DNA evidence collected at the scene would match someone entered into the national criminal DNA index system — but it hasn’t.
Boise police recently tapped Parabon Nanolabs to generate a computer profile of the suspect from DNA evidence collected at the crime scene. It is the first time the department has ever used DNA-generated images, a new tool they first learned about through another agency in Montana, Kendall said.
The DNA evidence indicates that suspect is a Latino man, possibly from Puerto Rico or Colombia. He likely has brown or hazel eyes, brown or black hair, and would not have freckles. The company generated three images of what the man’s face might look like at ages 25, 45 and 65.
“Investigators are confident in the profile’s eyes, nose, cheeks, and chin,” states a press release from Boise police. “The three profiles are based on a standard body mass index, and detectives caution that the suspect may have been and may currently be lighter or heavier.”
Two to three weeks before Casper was murdered, a man attempted to rob her at her business, police said. The man, who ran from the shop, was described as 17 to 25 years old with slicked-back black hair.
The description of that assailant and the DNA-based profile created by Parabon Nanolabs is very similar, Kendall said.
“We believe there is a strong likelihood that the attempted robbery two or three weeks earlier could very likely be related to the homicide,” Kendall said.
Police say the suspect probably lived in the Vista and Kootenai area at the time, or had a connection to the area.
Kendall says if they can put a few more pieces together, they can solve the case.
“I am confident that we’ll be able to give this family some answers,” he said.
Anyone with information that could assist detectives is urged to contact Crime Stoppers: call 208-343-2677 (COPS), go to www.343COPS.com, or leave a tip using the “P3 Tips” app for your mobile device.